Boston – The Boston Foundation and Pucker Gallery today announced that nineteen Boston-area artists have been named the 2023 class of Brother Thomas Fellows. Artists in this milestone class, the largest in the history of the Fellowship program, will each receive a $15,000 unrestricted grant from the Brother Thomas Fund at the Boston Foundation. Fellowships – given without stipulation as to how the funds are spent – match the needs of artists as well as the wishes of the donor who wanted to help other artists as his friends had helped him.
The grants bring total support from the Fund to $1,365,000, given to 91 artists since the first Fellows grants were awarded in 2009.
The Brother Thomas Fund was established at the Boston Foundation to honor the legacy of Brother Thomas Bezanson, a Benedictine monk and world-renowned ceramic artist, who wanted the sale of his work to support artists at critical junctures in their careers. Fellowships are announced every two years, and all artists, each of whom has established their place in the artistic spectrum, are nominated by a committee of artistic leaders, including past Fellows.
“The Brother Thomas Fellowships are a result of the remarkable generosity of Brother Thomas Bezanson, and a legacy to his understanding that artists of all stripes thrive best when given support and creative freedom to pursue their passions,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “It is again a tremendous honor to partner with this diverse and exceptionally talented group whose dedication and commitment shines through in their art.
The 2023 Fellows are notable for their talent and diversity – in addition to being the largest class in Brother Thomas history, it is exceptionally diverse. Seventy-nine percent represent BIPOC groups, and 79% identify as female. They comprise a mix of literary, performance, and craft artistic media, and range widely in age and career arc. More than 130 leaders from across the arts and culture sector were invited to nominate artists for the fellowship, and 108 nominees submitted their creative materials for consideration. The samples were reviewed by a four-member panel that convened at Pucker Gallery in July.
“This class of Fellows is special not just because of its members’ exceptional quality and talent, but also because they represent another step in the growth trajectory of the Brother Thomas Fellowships, with almost as many artists represented as in the first three Fellows classes combined,” said Bernie Pucker, owner of Pucker Gallery and a longtime friend of Brother Thomas Bezanson. “This growth reflects Thomas’ recognition that ‘what is Good, True and Beautiful, those things that unite and do not divide,’ can flourish. Through Thomas’ generous and thoughtful bequest, nearly a hundred artists have been able to focus more fully on their creative pursuits – just as Thomas intended.”
The goal of this biennial Brother Thomas Fellowship program is to support and celebrate a diverse group of Greater Boston artists working at a high level of excellence in a range of disciplines – and to enhance their ability to thrive and create new work. The Boston Foundation also hopes that fellowship winners will have greater access to a variety of markets, including galleries, residencies and commissions, and that the importance of artists to the vitality of Boston will be more broadly recognized.
For a complete list of Brother Thomas Fellows since 2009, visit the Brother Thomas Fellows page of TBF.org, and to learn more about Brother Thomas and view catalogs of his work at Pucker Gallery, visit https://www.puckergallery.com/artists#/brother-thomas-bezanson/.